Lessons in Manhood
Lesson 6: Responsibility
Squatch, I haven’t done one of these in a while. It’s not because I’m done with the lessons, but for another reason entirely that I’m going to discuss. This definitely has a chance to fall into “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” territory.
One of the things I’ll be teaching you your whole life is responsibility. It’s one of those lessons that you’re never done teaching, and for some people, it just takes a while to sink in. So you’ll learn—from me and from others—all kinds of things about responsibility. That responsibility means a Man takes the blame for his poor actions and shares the credit for his accomplishments. That responsibility means a Man takes care of the consequences, good and bad, of his actions. That responsibility means a Man understands what is required of him in life and steps up to fulfill those obligations. That responsibility means when a Man gives his word, he follows through on that promise and doesn’t renege.
And it’s this last one that I want to talk to you about today, Squatch, because there’s an underrepresented addendum to that part which most people don’t seem to address. A Man needs to follow through on his commitments, of course, but a side note to this is that a Man also needs to understand his limitations and not take on more commitments than he can follow through with. This, sadly, is where your dad is more man than Man, Squatch.
This area has always been one area where I’ve struggled quite a bit. And you’ll probably be surprised to learn it’s because your dad has trouble saying “No” to other people. I know, it seems like that’s the only word I know how to say around you sometimes, but when other people ask me for favors, or to help out with something I know how to do, or when something enjoyable comes along, I have a hard time telling people that I can’t do it. I just add it to my list of things to do and pack my schedule tighter.
There’s a few problems with this, Squatch. First, you end up placing an unfair burden on yourself when you overcommit. You make it harder for you to prioritize your schedule and you end up feeling overwhelmed until whatever commitment you made is completed. Or until you add more commitments. Your stress level gets ratcheted up and you’re not a pleasant person to be around. Your family definitely won’t appreciate it. And, of course, when I say “you,” I mean “I.”
Second, everything you’ve committed to starts to suffer. You’re not doing anyone a service by only being able to give half your attention or half your effort to things because your focus is split in so many different directions. Nothing ends up going as well as it could, and the people you committed to help out might have been better off without you in the first place.
Third, you squeeze out all the “you” time. In saying you’ll help out this person and that person and that person with their things, you’re making it so your stuff has to take a back seat. You don’t get to spend as much time preparing for your classes or grading papers. You don’t get to update your blog. You don’t get to write. You don’t get to spend quality time with your family. That’s definitely no good for you.
A Man knows when to say “No” in order to not overcommit himself. It’s such a simple word, but it’s something your dad is working on, Squatch. That’s why he says it so much to you. It’s practice.